An Anoka County sheriff’s detective had a much different experience than you or I might have in the wake of a suspected DUI crash.
According to his own statement, Anoka County sheriff’s detective Patrick O’Hara said he had about eight drinks over a four hour period before getting behind the steering wheel with his wife in the passenger seat. A short while later, O’Hara rolled the vehicle over into a ditch in a single-vehicle car crash. Investigators believe he drank much more than he admitted to, but they’ll never know for sure because O’Hara walked away from the scene of the accident. He walked down the road to a nearby gas station where his son picked him up in another vehicle. By the time police tracked him down more then seven hours later, a BAC test revealed that he was no longer legally drunk.
Because he fled from the scene of the accident, O’Hara was charged with criminal vehicular operation, but he was not charged with DWI.
It Gets Worse
You may think that by avoiding the DUI charge that O’Hara got special treatment, but it gets even worse. Records indicate that the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office didn’t even follow through on the criminal vehicular operation charge because O’Hara “provided his information and remained at the scene for 20 minutes. In addition, he was never told to stay at the scene,” according to Fox 9 News.
Imagine if a 23-year-old African American tried to walk away from the scene of a suspected alcohol-related car crash in which paramedics were trying to free the man’s wife who was trapped inside the vehicle. That man would likely be in handcuffs or worse, but instead, this 21-year veteran of the force is allowed to walk away and pretend he didn’t know standard protocol because he was afraid of the consequences of his actions.
Still think this story can’t get worse? It does.
When two Anoka County sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene, O’Hara told them he had been cut off by another vehicle even though another witness refuted that statement, saying O’Hara was all over the road leading up to the crash. One deputy who was wearing a body camera offered to give O’Hara a ride home, as they could clearly tell he was under the influence of alcohol. Instead, O’Hara is seen on dashcam video casually sauntering away from the crash site before walking down the road and eventually being picked up at a gas station by his son.
After O’Hara left, the deputies informed the Minnesota State Police to investigate. It didn’t take long for state troopers to realize they were trying to protect one of their own, but the state police went hard trying to find O’Hara and have his BAC tested. They attempted to track him down in three different counties, including going to his home and asking his son if he was there, to which the son replied “maybe, maybe not,” refusing to let them in without a warrant.
Eventually, police caught up with him when O’Hara went to the hospital where his wife was being treated for her injuries. State police said they needed to talk to him, but by then he had sobered up. As a result of the incident, O’Hara was demoted to deputy where he now makes $83,000 working courtroom security, while the two Anoka deputies who allowed him to walk away were given a one-day suspension without pay.
This is clearly a travesty of justice and shameful actions of those we trust to uphold the law in Anoka County and in Minnesota. Fox 9 provided an even deeper investigation into the incident with video. It’s worth a watch if you want to get your blood boiling.